news Saturday, August 01, 2015 - 05:30

 

In the last few weeks, a self-claimed “international” astrologer has been filing complaints with the Lokayukta, to which the anti-corruption bureau has been diligently sending out to notices to those named in the complaint. The diligence with which the Lokayukta has been sending notices has forced many to ask if the watchdog should have written rules on how to treat frivolous complaints? 

Complaint no 1: Against PM Modi

TDR Harishchandra Gowda, also a former Congress member, filed a complaint with the Karnataka Lokayukta on Wednesday against the Prime Minister alleging that Modi did not respond to his letters seeking permission to sell a letter he wrote to Indira Gandhi, in which he claims, predicted her death.

Gowda says he wants to sell the Indira Gandhi letter to US President Barack Obama for Rs. five lakh crore.

Registrar-in-charge of Lokayukta M S Balakrishna acknowledged that they had received the complaint; however, no action had been initiated as Lokayukta Justice Bhaskar Rao is on a long leave until July 17.

When asked if the Lokayukta, which has been established under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act of 1984, had powers to entertain complaints against the Prime Minister, Balakrishna said, “Firstly, we need verify if the prime minister comes under the classification of a public servant. Secondly, we need to check if it comes under our jurisdiction.”

Complaint no 2: Against former Karnataka CM Shettar

The Lokayukta issued a notice to former chief minister Jagadish Shettar recently based on Gowda’s complaint which alleged Shettar of taking bribe of Rs 2 crore from SM Krishna and Sonia Gandhi, and had thwarted Gowda’s chances of becoming a chief minister in 2002. Though Gowda had no proof to back his claims, the notice has been promptly sent, which Shettar has lambasted the Lokayukta for.

Complaint no 3: Against former CM Kumaraswamy

In another instance, JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy received a notice from Lokayukta on July 13 based on another of Gowda’s complaint. Gowda alleged that he had predicted the 2008 blasts in Bengaluru and informed the then chief minister Kumaraswamy to take precautionary measures. However, he accuses Kumaraswamy of not taking him seriously and not acting on his “prediction”.

Gowda claims he has filed over 40 complaints with Lokayukta against officials, all of which were dismissed.

Read more: What has Modi, Indira Gandhi, Kumaraswamy and Obama got to do with a Bengaluru astrologer?

In a country where three crore court cases are pending, frivolous petitions before the court and complaints can add to the existing burden.

Retired Justice MF Saldanha says the Lokayukta must have exercised caution before sending out notices and should not entertain such frivolous matters. “In my personal opinion, what the Lokayukta has done is absolutely wrong. While accepting the complaint, the Lokayukta must check if there is any prima facie evidence, witnesses before proceeding in the case. Secondly, they should check if there is sufficient material on record before issuing a notice,” he says.

He further adds that false claims or complaints can also have serious consequences on the reputation of the person who has been targeted.

In 2011, the Supreme Court had suggested 3000 per cent hike on penalty “on a person indulging in frivolous and vexatious litigation”, increasing the penalty from Rs 3000 to Rs 1 lakh, according to a report in The Times of India

In the recent years, courts have been increasing imposing hefty penalties to penalise those who file frivolous and false complaints.

In 2013, the Madras High court had imposed Rs 50,000 as penalty on two persons for filing as false writ petition against the Railways. 

On July 30, the Delhi High Court imposed penalty of Rs 25,000 each on Congress members Ambika Soni and Kumari Selja as their petition challenging the government’s order asking them to vacate their bungalows did not hold “merit”.

 

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